17.06.2006 | Yury Chumak, KHPG

“We don’t need a temple: we’ve got nowhere to go for walks”


The Chair of the Frunzensky District Council in Kharkiv, Tetyana Tolchy, considers that residents of the district are right that the park “Zustrich” [“Meeting”] is not the place for a Buddhist temple.  The “9-1-2 Information Service of the radio station “Nova khvylya” [“New wave”] reported that Ms Topchy made this statement during a briefing in the city council. The approval for the construction of the temple in the centre of this park of 2.2 hectares, which was issued around one year ago, was suspended by the second session of the newly-elected Kharkiv City Council.

“The residents of the district are raising absolutely justified demands”, Tetyana Tolchy said, in explaining her position on the issue. “There are not many parks in the Frunzensky District. Besides, the “Zustrich” Park is situated so that residents not only of the Frunzensky, but also the Kominternivsky District, can spend their leisure time there. For that reason I think that the park zone should belong to the territorial community”.

However members of the Vietnamese community are continuing to insist that there are many Buddhists in the city and that the temple should therefore be built.

In general it would seem that the new trend gaining fashion in Kharkiv to suspend construction, begun under the former city “orange” authorities, has been continued by the new Party of Regions – majority in the City Council under the banner of protecting the interests of one group of the community, will lead to a violation of the rights and freedoms of other groups. In the given case one is dealing with the deprivation of the right of a fair number of residents of Kharkiv (there are Buddhists not only among the Vietnamese community, but also among “native” Kharkiv residents) to worship and practise their religion alone or collectively and without constraint, which are fundamental elements of the freedom of personal philosophy and religion, enshrined in Article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine.

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